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Old 12-31-2018, 08:40 AM
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To elaborate, an offense has two ways for the quarterback to stop a play instantly and (almost always) safely once the ball is snapped.

1) Spiking - The QB throws the ball directly into the ground. This is considered an incomplete pass. An incomplete pass stops the clock. This is used often when the clock is running, the offense needs to stop it, and is willing to sacrifice a down to do it. It’s especially handy if you want to save a timeout (another way to stop the clock) or have no timeouts to spare.

2) Kneeling - If the QB ever goes down to the ground while holding the ball he is considered down (as if he was tackled) whether or not an opponent touches him. That’s why a QB who is running with the ball will often dive to the ground when a defender gets close to him. That’s a rule to protect the QB from injury. (Yes, QBs and kickers are special little snowflakes in football.) Well, if the QB kneels down as soon as he gets the ball, officially it is treated the same as if he was a runner who went down to the ground voluntarily. Anyone who goes down with the ball on the field (not going out of bounds) doesn’t stop the clock, so you can kneel, let the clock keep running, take your time to reform for the next play, wait until the last moment to snap it again, and repeat. There’s little the team can do about it and it’s pretty much a guaranteed way to run out the clock if your opponent doesn’t have enough time outs to prevent the clock from expiring.

Now these plays are generally safe but not without potential drama. Sometimes at the end of really intense games where teams get “chippy” (are insulting each other, getting extra rough, starting fights, etc.) the defense won’t just politely let it happen. They will rush the offense to sabotage it. I’ve never seen anything come of it so it’s essentially the losing team throwing a fit and being bad sports.

Sometimes a QB can fake a kneel or spike. There have been some famous moments where a team forms up to look like they are kneeling or spiking the football, and the QB fakes tossing the ball to the ground or kneels a bit without touching the ground. The unsuspecting defense doesn’t notice or isn’t in position to cover the offensive guy who runs down the field and the QB throws to him for a sneak touchdown. This kind of thing is rare but it has been done.

It’s also possible to screw it up. I remember seeing a rookie QB this year (can’t remember which one) who got confused and spiked when he was supposed to kneel. (Or vice versa? Again my memory is foggy.) Also a fumble (either a bad snap from the center or the QB having butterfingers) can blow either play.